LaVern Baker


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A distant relative of Memphis Minnie, LaVern Baker was instrumental in reshaping the blues vocal into something closer to pop. This invigorating collection includes the fiery singer's greatest sides, all cut with Atlantic Records, who signed her in 1953. Baker's stay at Atlantic was to last ten years, and her reputation rests with the material she did while with the label, the strongest sides of which appear on this compilation, all recorded between 1955 and 1957. Sexy, sensual, and a dynamite singer, Baker brought style and substance to her jazzy jump blues material, transforming it to the edge of rock & roll, and paving the way for the pop-soul of the 1960s. What is immediately obvious when one hears these wonderful sides is her energetic and playful joy, and her versatility as well. Her big R&B hits are here, including "Bop-Ting-A-Ling," the gliding and timeless "Play It Fair," "Still," and the galloping "Jim Dandy," as well as lesser-known but equally impressive tracks like the vibrant "That's All I Need" and the jazzy "Miracles." Without Baker, Atlantic may well have never gotten off the ground as a soul label, and this impressive singer deserves to be better known. She's a delight, pure and simple. The heart of her legacy is here.

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